The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Can you trust what your eyes tell you?

How often do you trust your eyes? I bet you trust them more than you think about. I do. I trust my eyes to tell me when the lights are on or off, to judge the distance between two points, to tell me whether the colors I’m wearing match or clash.

If you see someone carrying a baby, it’s generally safe to assume that baby belongs to them. If you see a person with a Wal-mart shirt on inside Wal-mart, it’s usually okay to assume that they work for Wal-mart. Sort of like if you see someone with a beard, generally it’s safe to assume that person is a man. Except sometimes assumptions get you in trouble, especially if you’re assuming something based on appearances only.

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Today’s Bible verse is Hebrews 11:1-3.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

Yesterday was Halloween, and regardless of how you feel about it, most of the rest of the world still dresses up for it. My office always does Halloween up, with costume contests, potluck lunch, and the opportunity to decorate your office space. One of the prizes goes to best team costume, and this year our Marketing group came as the guys from Duck Dynasty. The three ladies in today’s photo (yes, ladies) are the project managers from our marketing group. They were hilarious. They’d even done their research to learn key lines each character says so they could act out scenes in front of people.

Ironically a good percentage of those of us who dressed up have never seen the show (me included), so we all just wore camouflage and wandered around the office talking in bad accents. It was a riot. We actually won for best team costume too, which was nice, considering that we were competing against Candyland in customer service and all the female Disney villains in HR.

Just by looking at us, anyone who walked into our office off the street would think we’d lost our minds. Granted, marketing people aren’t exactly the sanest folks in the corporate arena, but you get my point. We’re not crazy. We’re all professional, usually all the time. We work our butts off, and Halloween is one of the days we’re allowed to let our hair down a bit (and apparently let us glue hair on our faces too).

You can’t always trust what your eyes are telling you. Sometimes your eyes will tell you something true, like whether or not the light is on or off, but other times your eyes tell you things you have to interpret based on your opinions and your perspective.

Something similar happened at a restaurant the other evening. My brother and I were out eating, and the waiter came up behind us and said, “Good evening, ladies!” And then he realized my brother was my brother—not my sister. Awkward.

For those of you who don’t know my brother, his hair is shoulder length. From the back, I suppose he could be mistaken for a woman, but that means you’d be making an assumption based on what you’re seeing.

So should we distrust our eyes? Should we question everything we see? No, I’m not saying that at all. Obviously, some things are true, whether we see them or not. Truth is always true and trustworthy. But it’s not a bad idea to learn to question. It’s not wrong to be sure, and you can certainly avoid a lot of embarrassment if you wait for more information before you make a judgment call.

In any case, jumping to conclusions is never a good idea. And that goes for matters of faith too. It’s really easy to read the Bible and jump to a conclusion based on a portion of what God has promised without understanding the whole promise. It’s really easy to jump to a conclusion about where God is leading you in life before you know His entire purpose. But because we’ve seen a part of it, we automatically assume that we’ve seen enough to know what’s going on.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t.

Keep your eyes open, yes. But don’t make judgment calls based on half the story. Don’t jump to a conclusion before you understand the situation. Otherwise you’ll be the waiter who calls a man a woman, or you’ll be that person who incorrectly asks a woman if she’s pregnant.

God has told us what we can expect from Him. Don’t put words in His mouth. So the next time you’re tempted to make an assumption about God (or your neighbor or anyone really) based on something you’ve seen, think twice. You don’t see the whole picture.

The Twizzler Tree

Do Twizzlers grow on trees?

If I told you a saw a tree that grew Twizzlers would you believe me? What if I showed you a picture? Would you believe me then? Or would you have to see it for yourself?
I am amazed how much easier it is to believe something once you see it. Why is that? Why is it that we little puny humans have to see something before we truly understand it? It’s ironic to me because our perception is so flawed that even when we see something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we actually see it.
My Twizzler tree, for example?  
The Twizzler Tree
The Twizzler Tree – Peten, Guatemala

Well, it does exist. But it doesn’t grow Twizzlers. It just looks like it does. This is one of the trees in the courtyard of the hotel I stay at in Guatemala when I’m visiting my friends, Jim and Shelley Dinsmore. So even if you believed me because I told you I had seen it, we would both still be wrong because my perception isn’t perfect.

The verse for today is 2 Corinthians 5:7.
For we live by believing and not by seeing.
This is a hallmark verse for a Christian because so much of what we believe about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit is beyond human perception. Notice I said “so much” and not “all” because there’s a vast amount of what we believe that can be obviously perceived. But when we get right down to the bare bones of Scripture, the Bible tells us to believe things without seeing them.
We are to believe that God created the world, even though we didn’t see that He did it. We are to believe that God is making a place for us in heaven for when Christ comes back to get us, even though we can’t see Him doing it. We are to believe that Jesus is our Savior, even though we can’t see Him. On and on and on it goes, believing things that we haven’t actually seen and have only heard someone tell us about.
Granted, we have the Bible. And despite what many people think, there is more historical evidence for the accuracy of Scripture than any other historical manuscript. Research it. Don’t just listen to me and don’t just listen to other people. Find out for yourself and see that it’s true.
There’s another verse I can’t help but think about. John 20:29. Christ says this after His resurrection, after He appears to the Disciples, after Thomas announces that he won’t believe that Christ is alive until he sees it for himself.
Thomas is often demonized for that statement. And I don’t think that’s right. He just wanted proof. And there’s nothing wrong with asking for proof. There’s nothing wrong with doubting. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. And you’ll notice if you read John 20:24-29 that Jesus doesn’t rebuke him and doesn’t call him on the carpet. He shows Himself, shows His scars to Thomas, and Thomas believes. And that’s when Christ says this:
“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Thomas believed because Jesus appeared to Him and proved Himself to Him. But Jesus is saying that people who believe in Him without seeing Him are blessed. Happy. The Message paraphrases it as saying that “even better blessings” are waiting for people who live by faith instead of by sight.
I don’t know about you, but “even better blessings” sounds pretty good to me. And if Jesus says that believing in Him without seeing Him is better, I’ll take His word for it.
It really all comes down to believing what’s in the Bible. Believing what other people have said. I have never seen Jesus. I have never seen God. I’ve seen evidence of Them in my life and in others’ lives. But face to face? No. I have to wait for that day, and I believe that day is coming. Why? Because the Bible says so. And I have chosen to believe it.
And I can’t help but wonder if Twizzlers really will grow on trees in heaven. Because that would rank pretty high on my list of “even better blessings.”